Rosa's Reviews > The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba

The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle
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's review
Mar 05, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, historical-fiction, young-adult, pura-belpre-award
Read from March 02 to 04, 2011

Fredrika Bremer was a Swedish suffragete that traveled the world writing books. She spent three months in Cuba and while she thought the country was beautiful, she felt it's beauty was very marred by slavery. The story's narration alternates between Fredrika, her translator Cecelia who is a slave and Elena the daughter of the Cecelia's owner.

The story is told in free verse and is absolutely beautiful and lyrical sounding. I think that this really brings home stark contrast of a beautiful country and and a horrible practice. The introspection into each characters thoughts give you a wonderful opportunity to see how Elena and Cecelia are changed by Fredrika's presence. Elena's change is particularly drastic, however it is a change for the better. Elena's eventual longing for freedom really made me feel for her. In many ways she is more trapped than Cecelia is, even though she is a free woman.

I also really appreciated the notes that the author included. Frederika Bremer was a real person and she really did have a translator named Cecelia when she was in Cuba. Elena was made up however I could easily someone being so changed by seeing another woman live with such freedom. All of the thoughts and dreams are made up as well however they really feel like they fit and I really enjoyed the book overall.

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